Shakur Stevenson hopes to tempt Leo Santa Cruz into a fight as he aims to "take over" at super-featherweight, potentially ruling out a unification showdown with Josh Warrington.
WBO featherweight champion Stevenson will be moving up a division on Tuesday in the first show for promoters Top Rank since the coronavirus pandemic shut down the boxing schedule.
The unbeaten 22-year-old – who has won 13 straight since turning pro, following an impressive amateur career that included a silver medal at the 2016 Olympic Games – takes on Felix Caraballo in a 10-round main event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
However, there may not be too many more outings at the 126-pound limit for the American, who is planning a permanent move up in weight class.
"Honestly, I’m looking at Leo Santa Cruz a lot more," Stevenson told Stats Perform News.
“Leo is at 130, I’m already getting bigger and I don’t know how long I’m going to be at 126 lbs. We will see if I can get Leo in the ring.
"130 has got a lot of tough fighters there. I think it's a division that I could take over easily.
"I don't think it would be any problem making those fights there besides probably Leo, but I think if I say his name enough, he will end up wanting to fight me too."
Stevenson's grand plan may scupper the prospect of a meeting reigning IBF featherweight champion Warrington, though.
The duo have both talked up the prospect of facing each other but Stevenson revealed how he had dismissed an offer he considered unacceptable to travel to face the Englishman in Leeds, meaning the window may already be closed on a bout between two of the best in the division.
"I’ve called him out since I was like 8-0," Stevenson, who claimed the vacant WBO strap with a points triumph over Joet Gonzalez in October 2019, said.
"Even when I was getting ready for my title the first thing that he said was, ‘Go and win a title first, then I will fight you’.
"When I won a title, he can't fight until May, or something like that, and I wanted to fight earlier. I said forget it and was going to have a tune-up fight, instead of waiting all the way until May to fight.
"Then he tried to make it seem that I took another fight with someone else, and that he cannot wait for me when he was the one... we were the ones trying to get in the ring earlier. There's a lot of stuff going on with that.
"They sent contracts that were like nothing, like pennies to me to be honest. For me to be in a unification fight, going over to his home town with no problem at all about it, I think I should be paid that way.
"There's a lot going on with that fight. I don't know if it's going to happen."